Would Equitable Tenancy Schemes Solve Housing Crisis?

Government figures released this week indicate that the number of households in the UK is set to grow by around 220,000 a year between now and 2027. This is a slight increase on previous estimates of 209,000, although in real terms the difference is negligible as the end effect will be the same: a further tightening of the housing market and less supply for buyers.

The same statistics show that around 160,000 new homes were built in the UK last year, leaving a shortfall of approximately 60,000. Should build and demand rates continue at the same ratio, that would leave a shortfall of about one million properties in 20 years time. Graeme Brown, director of communications at Shelter, told 24dash.com that this problem has been in the pipeline for "decades" and said there is "an urgent need to build more homes"

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper agrees and says the figures "show why it's right to build more homes". With people living longer and a vast increase in people living alone, she says "if we don't build more homes, we will see house prices rising even higher, with young people struggling to afford a home of their own".

One solution that has been put forward is to develop more schemes to help tenants gain a share in their homes but without forcing them down the owner-occupation route. The deputy head of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) recently wrote to Ruth Kelly, secretary of state for communities and local government, to push the idea - one that may interest landlords too.

In the letter, CIH deputy chief executive Sarah Webb says she wants the government to consider other ways of helping people to gain an equitable stake in the rising value of their homes. She believes that people who pay rent are making a significant contribution towards paying off the historic debt in their homes in the same way that mortgagees do.

Ms Webb says her organisation has been "championing equity stakes for a number of years now" as an alternative approach to the housing issue that makes "a valuable wider contribution towards supporting socio-economic mobility". These schemes would not only enable lower income families to save towards owner occupation, they would also encourage them to stick to the terms of their tenancy agreements, she added.

From a buy-to-let investor's point of view, such schemes may be useful for procuring reliable and secure tenants who will be moved to take good care of the property through having a stake in it.

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